Archive for September, 2020

B&O Interloper

September 30, 2020

It’s an all Chessie System motive power consist aside from an interloper that is still wearing Baltimore & Ohio colors.

To be correct, the lead locomotive, a GP40-2, is a B&O unit that has received the Chessie livery.

The train is eastbound in Akron on May 28, 1978, on former B&O track.

Photograph by Robert Farkas

House Pandemic Bill Has Amtrak, Transit Funding

September 30, 2020

A bill unveiled this week by Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives this week contains emergency air for public transit, Amtrak and the airlines.

Although the bill, named the Heroes Act, is expected to get a vote this week, some political observers don’t expect the Senate to vote on it. Instead the Senate might consider its own COVID-19 relief bill.

The House bill contains $2.2 trillion in emergency spending, including $2.4 billion for Amtrak.

Amtrak would receive $1.4 billion for the Northeast Corridor and $1 billion for the national network.

The bill allocates $569 million to help states and commuter rail providers pay Amtrak for state-supported route and commuter rail use of Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor.

Public transit would receive $32 billion, which includes $28.5 billion for operating assistance grants.

The American Public Transportation Association said in a statement that under the terms of the House bill the funding for public transit is to be directed to payroll and transit operations.

APTA said the funding, if approved by Congress and President Trump, would when combined with earlier approved CARES Act aid equal 100 percent of agencies’ operating expenses.

Also allocated by the bill is $2.5 billion for Capital Investment Grants for transit project sponsors with non-federal financial commitments and $10 billion for emergency relief grants for public transit agencies that require additional assistance to maintain operations.

The bill also contains $25 billion for airlines to save jobs through next March.

Airlines have been grabbing headlines in the past couple months by announcing massive layoffs and service cancellations once their CARES Act funding expires today (Sept. 30).

The House bill would extend $3 billion in payroll support for airline contractors as originally approved in March and $300 million to cargo airlines.

It also includes $13.5 billion in economic relief to airports and $75 million to preserve passenger air service for smaller communities.

An earlier House approved COVID-19 emergency aid bill failed to get a Senate vote and talks between the two chambers have broken down over partisan differences, including over the size of another relief bill and who would receive funding.

The latest House emergency relief bill is $1 trillion less than the earlier proposal approved last May.

There is some support among Senate Republicans who control that chamber for granting emergency aid to the airline industry, which in recent days has ramped up its lobbying campaign for more emergency funding as air travel remains in a severe slump.

A Senate bill introduced last week would provide $25.5 billion for passenger air carriers, $300 million for cargo air carriers and $3 billion for contractors.

Political observers have noted that airline aid has gained traction because many lawmakers of both parties and key administration officials fear that the layoffs airlines have signaled will occur in October could rattle an economy that remains in the doldrums.

RBM&N Sets Fall Foliage Excursions

September 30, 2020

Reading Blue Mountain & Northern will run fall foliage excursions on weekends starting Oct. 3.

The trains will operate with rail diesel car equipment on weekends to Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania, from Reading Outer Station, Port Clinton, and Tamaqua.

Tickets are $39 per person if boarding at Reading Outer Station and Port Clinton, and $24 per person from Tamaqua.

There will be a four-hour layover in Jim Thorpe where the railroad said passengers can explore the town’s shops, restaurants and museums.

Tickets information is available by calling 610-562-2102 or going to the tourist railroad’s website at

In an unrelated development, the RBM&N’s parent company Reading & Northern Railroad has hired Eric Peters as vice president of transportation and safety.

He will succeed the retiring Thomas Cook. Peters currently works at Norfolk Southern, which he joined 14 years ago as a management trainee.

Peters is now the NS superintendent of the Harrisburg Division.

In a news release, R&N said it interchanges with NS’s Harrisburg Division and Peters therefore has a good perspective of the regional railroad’s operations.

R&N is based in Port Clinton, Pennsylvania, and serves 70 customers in nine eastern Pennsylvania counties.

South Shore Appoints Marketing Executive

September 30, 2020

The Chicago, South Shore & South Bend Railroad has named Anthony S. Kazakevicius as its director of sales and marketing.

He will report to Eric Jakubowski, Anacostia Rail Holdings vice president and chief commercial officer.

Kazakevicius previously worked in marketing positions for the Indiana Rail Road, Rail America, and Iowa Interstate.

In a news release the Michigan City-based South Shore said Kazakevicius has 20 years of railroad marketing experience.

“His solid understanding of Midwest customers and commodities will help CSS grow its business base,” South Shore officials said in the news release.

Wabtec Collaborates With Penn State

September 30, 2020

Pittsburgh-based Wabtec Corporation has announced a partnership with Penn State University covering energy management, battery technology, and machine learning research, as well as professional and talent development.

In a news release, Wabtec said the new collaboration will build upon previous recruiting efforts and research with PSU’s College of Engineering on the optimization and management of energy storage systems.

Wabtec has worked with Penn State Behrend in Erie for the past eight years to create a week-long science, technology, engineering, arts, and math (STEAM) camp for middle school girls.

Biden Campaign Train has Amtrak Consist

September 30, 2020

Democratic president candidate Job Biden will be riding an all-Amtrak consist as he tours Northeast Ohio and Western Pennsylvania today (Sept. 30) by train.

An online report indicated that Biden’s campaign train left Chicago Tuesday night following the eastbound Lake Shore Limited with two P42DCs, conference car 9800, two Amfleet coaches, an Amfleet dinette, a Viewliner diner, another Amfleet coach and executive car American View.

The train was reported to have passed Chesterton, Indiana, at 1:03 a.m. (CDT) and Elkhart, Indiana, at 3:35 a.m. EDT.

The train is to leave Cleveland this morning and make a stop in Alliance late this morning en route to Johnstown, Pennsylvania, via Pittsburgh.

Biden Train to Stop in Alliance

September 29, 2020

Presidential candidate Joe Biden’s campaign train will stop in Alliance on Wednesday as well as make as many as five appearances in Pennsylvania.

It appears the train is using Norfolk Southern tracks used by Amtrak’s Capitol Limited and Pennsylvanian.

News reports indicate the campaign train will depart Cleveland and reach Alliance about 11:45 a.m.

It is not clear how many of the Pennsylvania stops are campaign appearances versus the train is just going to roll through.

One news report said the train is expected to reach the Pennsylvania appearances on the following schedule: Pittsburgh, 2:20 p.m. (train stop); Greenburg, 3:45 p.m. (train stop); New Alexandria, 4:30 p.m. (expected to be a roll by); Latrobe, 5:20 p.m. (might be a train stop); and Johnstown,, 7:30 p.m. (drive-in event.)

Boiden, a Democrat, is running for president against Republican and incumbent president Donald Trump.

The two of them are to appear at a debate in Cleveland Tuesday night.

Another Wheeling 2 for Tuesday

September 29, 2020

Here are a pair of Wheeling & Lake Erie locomotives that each feature a touch of another railroad.

In the top image SD40-2 No. 6316 still wears is Wisconsin Central livery as it helps pull a westbound in Navarre on September 5, 2016.

In the bottom photo, GP35-3 No. 107 pays tribute to the Akron, Canton & Youngstown. It is shown in Canton on Nov. 4, 2011.

Photographs by Robert Farkas

Man Sentenced in Amtrak Fraud Scheme

September 29, 2020

A Michigan man has received a six-year prison sentence in connection with a scheme to defraud Amtrak of more than $540,000.

Christian Newby, 32, of Milan, Michigan, pleaded guilty to wire fraud and aggravated identity theft charges.

Prosecutors said he obtained credit card information for more than 1,100 people, used that information to buy Amtrak tickets, then cancelled the tickets and received vouchers for the amount of the ticket from Amtrak.

He later sold vouchers at a discount on eBay. Police also found during a search of his residence improvised explosive devises, firearms, and narcotics.

FTA Announces Grant Program Funding

September 29, 2020

The Federal Transit Administration has announced the availability of $6.2 million in grant funding to support project planning with the objective of improving access to public transit.

The grants are being awarded through the agency’s Transit-Oriented Development planning pilot program that seeks to encourage ridership, transit access, and economic and mixed-use development near public transportation projects.

Examples of eligible projects include planning studies around station areas for new light-rail, heavy-rail and commuter-rail projects.

An eligible applicant must be an FTA grantee, either a project sponsor of an eligible transit project or an entity with land use planning authority in the project corridor.

The deadline for filing an application is Oct. 26.